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Early College student earns associate degree even before graduating from high school

Craig Okahara-Olsen earned his associate degree from Hawai'i CC even before he graduated from high school.

Craig Okahara-Olsen earned his associate in arts degree from Hawaiʻi Community College a week before earning his high school diploma from Waiākea High School. Okahara-Olsen is the first Hawaiʻi Island student to earn his associate degree through Early College classes taken as a high school student. And he did so with distinction, earning a 4.0 grade-point average in his Hawaiʻi CC classes.

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Hawaiʻi CC began delivering Early College classes at high schools in the 2013–2014 academic year, and the program has grown steadily since. Early College is currently offered at nine Hawaiʻi Island high schools. About 600 students take Hawaiʻi CC Early College classes each year.

Sixteen public high school students from across the state earned college degrees from University of Hawaiʻi campuses in spring 2018, before their high school graduations, through the Early College program. One student already earned her degree from Leeward Community College in fall 2017.

Early College collaborations between UH and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education, offer the opportunity for students to take college courses at their high schools and simultaneously earn credit toward both high school and college diplomas. UH also has an Early College collaboration with Kamehameha Schools. This past school year (2017–18), 270 Early College classes were being offered by UH at 40 public high schools and charter schools across the state, and more then 375 classes are planned for next school year.